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One of my favorite bloggers, Becca, of Becca’s Byline, launched a new site a few weeks ago. Write on Wednesday is, according to Becca’s introduction, “a place to gather if you love playing with words and putting them to the page.” She encourages readers to respond to the topic she posts each Wednesday either by posting on their own site and linking back or simply posting a comment at Write on Wednesday. She opines that “sharing is the name of the game” (hence, the title of this article) and invites writers to “join us around the table. Bring your best notebook and a freshly sharpened pencil.” The topics she has discussed so far are thought-provoking and her own responses extremely insightful and interesting.

Sharing — knowledge, information, skills, and a sense of community — is indeed supposed to be the name of the game in the blogosphere. So I have been pondering why, of late, I have discovered so many blogs operated by individuals who don’t seem interested in sharing. In fact, the sites in question look very much like blogs, but are really just static websites.

The difference? In my mind, what separates a website from a blog is one important element: Interactivity. I began building websites in the mid-1990’s. I bought a book explaining HTML, got a free site on GeoCities and began tinkering with my crude creation. But the websites we built in those days were one-way communication devices because, although we posted email addresses to which visitors could send messages, there was no functionality allowing for comments to be posted on the site.

Once I discovered blogging software, there was no going back. I converted all of my static websites to blogs and have never regretted that decision.

So I am admittedly baffled by a trend that I have observed in recent months and find, frankly, disturbing. More and more blogs seem to be completely disabling visitors’ ability to post a comment or requiring visitors to register as a site user in order to comment.

I first noticed this a few months ago in conjunction with the weekly blog carnival I administer, the Carnival of Family Life. At first, I received one or two submissions each week from sites that either did not permit comments to be posted at all or required registration. But as the weeks progressed, more and more bloggers were submitting articles for the Carnival from sites operated in that fashion.

As the number of such posts continued to climb, I evaluated the situation and reached a decision: I stopped accepting articles from authors running such sites. At first, several bloggers argued with me, contending that their articles were worthy of inclusion in the Carnival because they provided valuable on-topic information. In most instances, they were right. I found myself torn about rejecting well-written, articulate articles.

But in the final analysis, I concluded that featuring articles published on sites that only permitted communication to flow in one direction was inherently unfair to the other Carnival participants and intellectually disingenuous. After all, I operate a blog carnival and, as noted above, my belief is that what separates blogs from old-fashioned websites is the give-and-take that occurs between the author and his/her readers.

Of course, not all of the articles in question have been top-notch. And many have come from sites that appear to exist solely to sell a particular product, as evidenced by the fact that the email addresses provided at the time the post is submitted for my consideration are not even valid and the emails are returned as undeliverable.

Some of the site owners argued that they began requiring registration to prevent spam. Sorry, but I don’t buy it because there are plenty of safeguards available, including Akismet and Bad Behavior, just to name two plugins. They also contended that requiring a user to register discouraged those visitors who were simply spoiling for a fight, thereby eliminating contentious comments and the “comment wars” that can follow. Again, it has been my experience that truly contentious comments are rare and, if received, easily deleted. While I do not practice comment moderation, for the most part, I have no qualms about deleting a comment posted solely for the purpose of provoking me or another reader which adds nothing valuable to and/or does not advance an otherwise productive conversation taking place on the site.

Comment moderation, i.e., the practice of preventing comments from being visible to readers until approved by the site owner, and registration are, in my opinion, huge deterrents that should be avoided by bloggers. I will not take the time to register and, candidly, find the practice offensive to the point that I will not frequent the blog that requires it. I will also skip leaving a comment on any site that announces comment moderation is enabled. In my opinion, both practices send a message to a blog’s visitors: Your feedback is neither solicited nor particularly welcome.

Becca accurately stated that “sharing is the name of the game” in blogging and, more broadly, writing. Prohibiting readers from commenting in response to your writing or demanding that they take the time and go to the trouble of registering before being allowed to do so is, in my estimation, antithetical to that guiding philosophy of blogging.

What do you think? When you encounter a blog where comment moderation is employed or you must first register in order to comment, do you feel disinclined to do so? If not, what justification(s) for one or both practices do you offer?

And as to the Carnival of Family Life or, for that matter, any blog carnival, do you agree or disagree with my decision not to accept posts published on sites that either do not accept comments at all or require registration in order for readers to comment?


12 Comments

  1. “What do you think? When you encounter a blog where comment moderation is employed or you must first register in order to comment, do you feel disinclined to do so? If not, what justification(s) for one or both practices do you offer?”
    Personally, I don’t like comment moderation but that doesn’t necessarily stop me from commenting. On the other hand, registration really bugs me. It’s one more password I have to remember, or if I decide to go with one password for all sites that require registration, then there’s one more site that has access to my all in password. Either situation stinks so I just avoid it.

    “And as to the Carnival of Family Life or, for that matter, any blog carnival, do you agree or disagree with my decision not to accept posts published on sites that either do not accept comments at all or require registration in order for readers to comment?”

    One of the beautiful things on the interweb is that you do have the option of creating policies that align with your beliefs. It’s your party, you make the rules according to your convictions. I think we’d all have less respect for each other if we didn’t stick to what we believe.

    judy haley (coffeejitters)s last blog post..Goodies: Robots in Love Pendant

  2. For me, blogging is about writing and sharing in the conversation. I write on topics that I want others to engage with me on… I believe that very few bloggers can speak authoritatively on a topic through their blog without engaging in a two-way discussion. (Seth Godin is one of them. His blog is a one-way conversation. And yet he performs so well. If you don’t like Seth Godin that’s fine. A lot of people still follow his message (a.k.a. blog) very closely and that’s my point).

    Re: Registering to the site before you comment.
    I think this is unfortunate. I’ve come across various blogs who’s conversation I enjoy very much. I want to join in the conversation but when it comes down to it, I’m put through this arduous process of registering to the site first. I’m sorry but I simply won’t do it. To have to sit there and click page after page after page and submit information just isn’t conducive to the conversation. It’s like sitting down and saying something to someone while they have their head turned and are talking to someone else. What’s the point in saying anything at all?

    Re: Comment moderation.
    I think I’m ok with it. Granted I’ve had experiences where the author of the blog never even gets to approving the comments which is again silly. Why have comments to begin with if you’re not going to “respond?” You might as well disable comments all-together or dump the blog.

    Anyway, I’m ok with comment moderation. If you want to approve each and every comment before you post it, you have a right to. And I’m not going to argue with it. I’ll wander on back and see how the conversation is developing even if it is unfolding rather slowly. But if I see that you’re not responding to comments, it says that you’re not really interested in the conversation at all.

    Anyway, just my thoughts on the matter 🙂

    Ricardo Buenos last blog post..Quote of the Day: words that have "meaning"

  3. I stand by my original comment – sharing is the name of the game! For me, that’s the beauty of blogging – the ability to share thoughts and opinions with others. Of course, that comes with a responsibility to be fair and constructive in your comments. Unfortunately, there are always people who don’t wish to play by those rules, and they tend to spoil it for the rest of us.

    Personally, I rarely take the time or effort to “register” on a blog just to make a comment. And I completely agree with your policy re the blog carnival. Participating in such a group effort seems to imply the writer wishes to engage in conversation – if not, then they shouldn’t be included.

    Thanks for linking to Write On Wednesday! All are invited to drop by and share thoughts on the writing process and craft…no registration or comment moderation necessary 🙂

    Beccas last blog post..Write On Schedule

  4. When it comes to comment moderation, sometimes it’s necessary, but oftentimes it’s just a “control freak” issue. The problem is that if someone does not get to say what they want in one area of the web, they can say it on millions of other sites and blogs. So, sometimes filtering is worthless anyway.

  5. babyfootprint

    When I saw comment with moderation I hate it coz 99% of my comments will not get approved even though I follow their rules and avoid being looked like a spam. It’s disappointing to know that your comments are being rejected coz I’ve some spent time typing it. I just hope that won’t happen here.

  6. This sounds like a fun site. I enjoyed these writing activities in my Comp class in college.
    As for the comments issue, I know on my blog I have to moderate to some degree just because their are certain adult industries that I do not want all over my site. Generally I approve most all comments though it is the whole point of blogging, to have a discussion.

  7. pandi merdeka

    @ Judy

    I also do a comment moderation, but my reason to do that is not for editing or something like you say. I love spammer 😆

  8. You just gave great definition of blogging. Communication between blogger and visitor is a must. My opinion is that registration step for commenting kills that. Personally, i always skip to comment on such blogs, because i think it is not worth of time. Visitor likes simplicity and every step more will pull him away from the site.
    Cheers…

  9. Beeing able to comment is important so that the writer can get a feedback!

  10. I rarely take the time or effort to “register” on a blog just to make a comment. And I completely agree with your policy re the blog carnival. Participating in such a group effort seems to imply the writer wishes to engage in conversation – if not, then they shouldn’t be included.

    but taking time to read others and participate in that gives a lot of encouragement to author

  11. I think that it is up to each blogger to decide what he or she wants for their site, and it really doesn’t matter much to me what they decide. I do not automatically interpret a registration requirement as indicating a lack of willingness to participate in conversation. If there is something I want to say badly enough, or the site is one I completely enjoy, and registration is required, I’ll do it. It usually only requires a minute. After all, most forums require registration in order to post, and in my mind there is little difference between a conversation that takes place on a forum and one that takes place through a comment system. In the end, it is the decision of the blogger as to which system works best for them, and if I like the site enough, I’m happy to work within the constraints they set.

    As for comment moderation, I can certainly see the need for it as long as it doesn’t go overboard. It is one thing to moderate foul language, spam and porn links, or deliberate inflammatory or insulting remarks (especially if it is a family-oriented site). It is something else entirely to moderate opinions that just happen to disagree with the blogger.

  12. For some types of blogs having un-moderated commenting can be a problem, particularly where a blog is associated with a business. Spam does sometimes get through, even with a plugin like Akismet and it’s best that potential clients don’t see loads of dodgy links and comments on the site.

    For personal blogs this should be less of a problem.

    I do think that where blogs turn off comments, they would be better doing it on a post-by-post basis rather than across the blog. Should a topic become contentious or the blogger just want to make a quick statement without having to respond to lots of remarks then turn off commenting, but on the whole your readership will be more likely to keep coming back if you let them tell you what they think!

    Mindys last blog post..Preparation is the key to a successful online business

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